United Methodist Publishing closing Cokesbury stores

Digital, direct channels to get boost as customers continue to shift buying habits

The board of the United Methodist Publishing House will close its network of Cokesbury retail stores by next spring and is investing more in its website, call center, direct sales and event presence.

Cokesbury’s 38 full-line stores and 19 seminary stores — which are concentrated in an area from Texas to Pennsylvania — will shut their doors by April 30, officials said. A recent survey showed that just 15 percent of the division’s customers shopped only its retail stores. That, they said, has made the locations “no longer financially viable.”

“Cokesbury has been serving for more than 200 years, and during that time has continuously adapted to the changing landscape affecting congregations and their leaders,” said UMPH President and Publisher Neil Alexander. “A shift toward all things digital and the convenience of placing orders at any time is the reality of Cokesbury today.”

Cokesbury said it will spread more than 40 sales representatives across the country to work directly with customers at churches and in other ministry settings.