Citing move to digital, LifeWay to close all stores by the end of the year

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LifeWay stores like the one in Albany, pictured, will close down by the end of 2019, a statement by the organization confirmed today through its company blog. SCREEN GRAB/Google Maps

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In announcing a complete move to online, LifeWay Christian Resources announced today it will close all its 170 brick-and-mortar retail stores by the end of 2019.

“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 a story released through LifeWay’s newsroom. “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 move doesn’t come as a surprise since LifeWay stated in January that it would be reducing the number of retail locations due to declining customer traffic and lagging sales. Currently LifeWay lists 14 stores in the Georgia cities of Albany, Athens, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Savannah, Valdosta, Warner Robins, Atlanta, Buford, Conyers, Douglasville, Kennesaw, and Morrow.

“While we had hoped to keep some stores open, current market projections show this is no longer a viable option,” Waggoner said. 

Local circumstances will determine the scheduling of closing which stores, the statement added. The organization’s overall strategy includes introducing new digital resources such as Bible studies, worship planning, live streaming of events, and online training.

Over the course of a month, it stated, LifeWay interacts with five times as many customers digitally as it does through its stores.

“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.”

More information about store closings is available at LifeWay.com/StoreFAQs.

Carol Pipes, director of corporate communications for LifeWay, contributed to this report.

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