LifeWay Christian Resources announced Wednesday that it will be closing all remaining 170 stores this year and focusing on online sales.
Carol Pipes, director of corporate communications for LifeWay, posted the announcement on the company’s website, explaining that it was “a strategic shift of resources to a dynamic digital strategy.”
“The organization will continue to offer a broad selection of resources through LifeWay.com and the LifeWay Customer Service Center (1-800-458-2772),” wrote Pipes.
“LifeWay will also continue to serve customers through its network of church partners who work directly with churches.”
Acting President Brad Waggoner said in a statement that LifeWay still had “a robust publishing, events and church services business,” noting that it was “experiencing strong growth” via its digital commerce.
“LifeWay is moving into a new era with a strategic digital focus that will prepare us for the future and allow us to better serve our customers,” said Waggoner.
In January, then LifeWay President Thom Rainer sent an email to employees announcing that the company was going to close some of its brick-and-mortar locations due to “an accelerated rate of erosion.”
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“In simple terms, a strategic shift is required for moving more and more of our resources to a dynamic digital strategy,” wrote Rainer earlier this year.
“We will be transitioning many of those resources from our LifeWay stores to digital channels. The good news is that we will be better prepared to meet the future. The challenging news is that some of our stores will have to close.”
Waggoner noted in Wednesday's statement that while LifeWay had originally intended to keep some stores open, “current market projections show this is no longer a viable option.”
“LifeWay has developed close connections with the communities where our stores are located, and we have been honored to serve those communities. We will continue serving local congregations as they meet the spiritual needs of their neighbors,” continued Waggoner.
Dates for store closures will vary depending on local circumstances, according to LifeWay. Regardless, all stores are expected to be closed down by the end of the year.
Founded in 1891, LifeWay sells an extensive selection of Bibles, Christian literature, sacred music and movies, as well as church supplies and other gifts.