LifeWay Christian Resources will close all of its 170 brick-and-mortar stores this year as store traffic and sales lag, the organization announced Wednesday.
The Nashville-based Southern Baptist publishing company announced in January it would reduce its retail presence and cut staff, but it had planned to keep operating some stores, where it sells Bibles, books, Christian music and other faith-oriented products.
“While we had hoped to keep some stores open, current market projections show this is no longer a viable option,” acting CEO Brad Waggoner said in a statement. “The decision to close our local stores is a difficult one.”
The company plans to shift to a digital strategy as consumers increasingly rely on online shopping, a challenge that retailers face nationally.
LifeWay resources – including online Bible studies and worship plans – will be offered at LifeWay.com, through the LifeWay Customer Service Center and its network of church partners.
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The LifeWay building imploded in downtown Nashville. Video shows several angles of the implosion. Video by Michael Schwab, Tom Stanford, Shelley Mays, Helen Comer, Erica Brechtelsbauer and Snaproll
“LifeWay is fortunate to have a robust publishing, events and church services business. Our retail strategy for the future will be a greater focus on digital channels, which are experiencing strong growth,” Waggoner said. “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.”
LifeWay said the digital focus has allowed it to expand its breadth, boosting interaction with consumers beyond its store customer base.
“Our world and our customers are increasingly online,” Waggoner said, “Investing in a dynamic digital strategy allows LifeWay to better serve the church in its mission and only enhances our ability to provide biblical solutions for life.”
LifeWay sold its Nashville headquarters building in 2015 for $125 million and since moved to a new site at Capitol View. When the company held a ribbon cutting there in 2017, it had 1,100 employees.
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