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Lifeway hears the digital call, will shutter all stores

LifeWay Christian Resources is closing all 170 brick-and-mortar stores as part of a broader digital shift in its business.

In a corporate blog post, the organization said it will continue selling products via its e-commerce site and customer service phone line, as well as through church partners. In January, LifeWay initially announced it would reduce the number of its retail locations due to declining customer traffic and sales.

During the last decade, LifeWay said it has seen commerce increasingly move online, while experiencing overall growth in digital sales. In one month, LifeWay said it interacts with five times as many people through its digital environments as it does through LifeWay stores.

As part of the organization’s larger transformation strategy, LifeWay has introduced a number of digital resources including online Bible studies, worship planning, live streaming of events and online training opportunities. In operation since 1891, LifeWay offers an assortment of Bibles, books, Scripture reference tools, Bible studies, children’s products, Christian music and movies, gifts, and church supplies. Additional items including church signs, furnishings and buses, as well as background checks, electronic giving and other services are available through LifeWay’s OneSource program. LifeWay also hosts a number of camps and events throughout the year.

“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,” said acting president and CEO Brad Waggoner. “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.”

The timing of store closings will vary depending on local circumstances. LifeWay expects all brick-and-mortar stores to close by the end of the year.
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