DESTIN — The only Christian bookstore in the area is closing, according to reports.

In a press release, LifeWay Christian Resources announced that all of its 170 stores will close this year, including locations in Destin and Pensacola. The Destin LifeWay Christian Store opened in The Shoppes at Paradise Key in 2010.

The organization cited fewer customers and lower sales as a reason for shuttering the stores, though it will maintain online sales and services.

LifeWay Christian Resources, based in Nashville and owner of the stores, said it plans to focus on digital sales, as it interacts with five times the people online versus stores, according to a release from the nonprofit.

Exactly when the stores will close depends on the location, LifeWay said, though closing sales will last a few months at each store.

LifeWay Christian Resources spokeswoman Carol Pipes said there is no set date for the Destin store closure, but it will be closed by the end of the year.

"I don’t have dates for all of our stores yet, but two-thirds of them will close by this summer and all of them will be closed by December," Pipes said.

In January, LifeWay said it would close some stores because of a decline in customers and sales, but decided it wasn't possible to keep any open due to market projections.

"The decision to close our local stores is a difficult one," said acting President and CEO Brad Waggoner in a statement. "Our world and our customers are increasingly online."

The organization, founded in 1891, sells Bibles, books, children's products, Christian music, movies, gifts, church supplies and more in its stores. It will still have products for sale on LifeWay.com, directly through church partners and through its customer service center.

It also offers digital resources online for Bible study, worship planning, training and more.

The announcement comes about two years after Family Christian Stores, a competitor of LifeWay based in Michigan, announced it was closing all of its 240 stores due to declining sales.

 

Staff writer Savannah Vasquez contributed to this report