US book and products retailer LifeWay Christian Resources is to close 170 brick-and-mortar stores this year as it plans to focus on its digital retail strategy.

This move follows the announcement, made in January, to decrease the number of its retail locations due to a drop in customer traffic and sales.

As part of the new digital initiative, the company will offer customers a wide assortment of resources through its online platform, LifeWay.com and the LifeWay Customer Service Centre. The company will also use its church partners’ network to sell products.

LifeWay Christian Resources president and CEO Brad Waggoner said: “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.

“LifeWay has been serving the church for 128 years and we will continue to grow our ministry to churches and individuals into the future.”

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

“The decision to close our local stores is a difficult one. LifeWay has developed close connections with the communities where our stores are located, and we have been honoured to serve those communities. We will continue serving local congregations as they meet the spiritual needs of their neighbours.

“LifeWay has been serving the church for 128 years and we will continue to grow our ministry to churches and individuals into the future.

“Our world and our customers are increasingly online. 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.”