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Religious book retailer Cokesbury closing stores

Religious book chain Cokesbury, which has two stores in Central Kentucky, is closing its retail locations nationwide.

A retail division of the United Methodist Publishing House, Cokesbury has 38 regular stores, including one in Lexington's Woodhill area, as well as 19 seminary locations, including one at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore.

"A shift toward all things digital and the convenience of placing orders at any time is the reality of Cokesbury today," United Methodist Publishing House's president, Neil Alexander, said in a statement. "It is difficult to see the closure of Cokesbury local stores, but doing so will allow us to make a greater investment in the ways of shopping with Cokesbury that customers increasingly prefer."

A company statement said the number of customers relying only on bricks-and-mortar locations has steadily declined while its Web site and call center have become more popular. Executives cited a recent customer survey that suggested only 15 percent of customers shopped exclusively in stores.

Going forward, Cokesbury will be relying on its Web site at Cokesbury.com, the Cokesbury Call Center at 1-800-672-1789, and a team of direct sales personnel to sell products at events and visit churches directly.

Cokesbury spokeswoman Amy Campbell Smith said it has not yet been determined when the Lexington and Wilmore locations will close. All stores are expected to shutter no later than April 30.

She said the Lexington store employs five and Wilmore has six workers. The company plans to offer severance packages and job search services, according to a statement.

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