LifeWay Christian Resources, a national Christian bookstore chain with locations in Harrisburg, Chambersburg, and Lancaster, will close all 170 of its brick-and-mortar stores by the end of the year, the company announced Wednesday on its website.
The decision comes as LifeWay embarks in a “strategic shift of resources to a dynamic digital strategy,” the company said.
LifeWay said it will continue to serve customers online and through its network of church partners.
“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 in the announcement. “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.”
In January LifeWay announced it would reduce the number of its retail locations due to declining customer traffic and sales.
“While we had hoped to keep some stores open, current market projections show this is no longer a viable option,” Waggoner said.
“The decision to close our local stores is a difficult one,” Waggoner said. “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.”
The timing of store closings will vary depending on local circumstances, the company said. LifeWay expects all brick-and-mortar stores to close by the end of the year.
In operation since 1891, LifeWay offers a comprehensive selection 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 at LifeWay.com/OneSource.
LifeWay also hosts a number of camps and events throughout the year for all age groups.
As part of the organization’s strategy, LifeWay has introduced a number of digital resources including online Bible studies, worship planning, live streaming of events and online training opportunities.
“LifeWay has been serving the church for 128 years, and we will continue to grow our ministry to churches and individuals into the future,” Waggoner said. “As the market continues to change, primarily through shifts in brick-and-mortar retail, we are taking steps to meet customer demand for digital shopping experiences and to expand our reach globally.”