Essex

Chelmsford's Christian Bookshop to close after 30 years

Chelmsford Christian bookshop
Image caption The bookshop has been trading in Chelmsford for over 30 years

The manager of a religious bookshop in Chelmsford has said a rise in online sales is the main reason for it closing its doors after more than 30 years.

The Christian Bookshop will shut in January following a decline in sales of about 25% over the past five years.

John Dawson, who has run the shop for more than two decades, said he had seen a "steady decline" in sales.

He said: "We can't compete with the internet, although we offer a bit more than selling here."

He added: "People are not reading so many books. You can obviously download books now and people are going on the internet to buy books.

"We offer advice on buying the right book, the right Bible, which you can't always get on the internet. It's very impersonal, but people still want to press buttons and get things that way."

'Great sadness'

The store's owner, Southend Christian Bookshop Ltd, will continue to trade from its shops in Southend and Brentwood.

Mr Dawson said that as well as being a loss to Christian people in Chelmsford, there would also be a knock-on effect to the shop's suppliers.

Richard Burrough of the Memralife Group, which produces Christian music CDs and books, said that when he started in the industry 10 years ago there were about 700 Christian bookshops in the UK.

He estimated only a third of those were still active.

Mr Dawson said: "From our perspective, there is a great sadness for us to see so many shops closing down because they're a Christian presence on the High Street.

"They're an outreach into the community, a place where people can go and they do much more than sell books and resources."

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