Discount retailer Fred's Inc. will close 159 stores across the country, including its Lafayette store at 2490 W. Congress St., as the company's sales continue to slump.

The Memphis-based chain will close the stores by the end of May with sales starting Thursday, according to a company statement, before closing its underperfoming stores, including 14 in Louisiana. The company has also hired investment firm PJ Solomon to evaluate "strategic alternatives" to maximize its value for all of its shareholders. 

Stores in Carencro, Franklin and St. Martinville will also close. 

The closures make up 29% of the company's 557 stores, according to a USA Today report. The company reported a 5.5 percent drop in sales in the third quarter of 2018, its most recent earnings report, compared to the previous year. 

"After a careful review, we have made the decision to rationalize our footprint by closing underperforming stores with a particular focus on locations with shorter duration leases," CEO Joseph Anto said in a statement. "Most of these stores have near‐term lease expirations and limited remaining lease obligations."

The closure is the latest in a growing list in Acadiana and part of a nationwide shift in the retail industry. Others include two Stage stores, all Payless ShoeSource stores, the northside Walmart Supercenter, Charlotte Russe, Things Remembered, Maurice's, Gap, Gap Kids, Banana Republic and one Mattress Firm store. Victoria's Secret has yet to announce which stores it plans to close. 

Acadiana Business Today: Report: Son of St. Landry deputy arrested in connection with 3 church fires; Discount retailer Fred's to close 159 stores, including its Lafayette store on West Congress Street

Follow Adam Daigle on Twitter, @adamdaigleAdv.