Alabama’s 10 LifeWay stores and the rest of the company’s 170 brick-and-mortar retail stores will close by the end of 2019.
The official announcement from LifeWay came today (March 20) though rumors of impending closings have been circulating since LifeWay announced in January that “some” stores would close 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,” acting President and CEO Brad 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. Several locations in Alabama have received notice they will close by the end of May. LifeWay expects all brick-and-mortar stores to close by the end of 2019.
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 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 has been serving the church for 128 years, and we will continue to grow our ministry to churches and individuals into the future,” he added. “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.”
LifeWay distributes resources in 164 nations and licenses resources in more than 60 languages.
Like other retailers, over the last decade the organization has seen commerce increasingly move online, while experiencing overall growth in digital sales.
In one month, LifeWay interacts with five times as many people through its digital environments as it does through LifeWay 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.”
The organization will continue to offer a broad selection of resources through LifeWay.com and the LifeWay Customer Service Center (1-800-458-2772). LifeWay Customer Service hours are Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Central). LifeWay will also continue to serve customers through its network of church partners who work directly with churches.
More information about store closings is available at LifeWay.com/StoreFAQs.