Two months after announcing the closure of some stores, LifeWay Christian Resources has announced that it will shutter all 170 locations by the end of the year, according to a statement issued by the company on Wednesday.
According to acting president and CEO of LifeWay Brad Waggoner, the “difficult” decision is part of a new retail strategy that is focused on digital channels “which are experiencing strong growth,” he 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.”
A timeline for the store closings depends on “local circumstances,” according to the statement, but the chain expects all outlets to shutter by the end of the year. LifeWay will continue to offer resources through LifeWay.com and serve customers through its network of church partners. The stores, which first opened in 1891, sell Bibles, books, Scripture reference tools, and more.
“As the market continues to change, primarily through shifts in brick-and-mortar retail, we are taking steps to meet the customer demand for digital shopping experiences and to expand our reach globally,” Waggoner said.
Mark D. Taylor, chairman/CEO of Tyndale House, said the publisher is "very sad" about the closures. "On the other hand, we understand that the changing pattern of retail shopping has made it impossible for LifeWay to move forward with their brick-and-mortar locations," he said in a statement PW.
LifeWay is the second Christian retail chain to close due to changing consumer behavior; Family Christian Stores closed all locations in 2017. The combination of the closing of LifeWay and FCS has resulted in the loss over 400 Christian retail locations in the last two years.