Three Living Oasis stores have closed and two more are preparing to shut their doors, making around 20 staff redundant.
The Christian retailer has closed outlets in Aberdeen, Inverness and Sutton with Bedford and Belfast soon to follow, due to "poor sales".
Ray George, chairman of trustees for Living Oasis and head of the Nationwide Christian Trust, said that managers of the affected bookshops were warned in October that if trade didn’t pick up he would have no choice but to close them.
"We said the shops had to sustain themselves to be safe from closure, staff were well aware of that," he told The Bookseller. "The shops that were closed were losing £40-50,000 each a year and we just cannot afford to keep sustaining that, we had to make that decision."
Hope that trade would pick up in the weeks before Christmas was not borne out, he added.
The closures bring the number of Living Oasis stores nationwide from 19 to 14, with George adding that further closures would depend on the result of "dialogue" between Living Oasis and church leaders in the coming weeks.
Living Oasis, the trading arm of the charity Nationwide Christian Trust, acquired the 19 shops in January 2010 from former retailer Wesley Owen Bookshops.
Two stores in Leeds and Liverpool are currently undergoing what Living Oasis calls "phase two" development, which involves combining the bookshops with a café, and making them a bigger part of the community with late-night openings.
"We think this is the way forward to keep the shops open and viable," George said.
The Nationwide Christian Trust has been running for seven years.