More than half of the grocery store owners surveyed in the Boston area said they had faced a grocery bill this month, and nearly half said they could not pay for their purchases.
The survey of more than 4,000 grocery store operators conducted by the Massachusetts Retailers Association and the American Association of Grocery Retailers found that 57 percent of owners said they would not pay the full price for their groceries, while 45 percent said they wouldn’t pay a discount.
Thirty-three percent said that they were “not sure” whether they would pay for the groceries.
Nearly half of those surveyed said they have experienced a grocery sale that has caused them significant financial hardship.
“This is a huge concern for us,” said Michael B. Lefebvre, executive director of the Boston Retailers Alliance.
“It’s a problem that will affect our customers for a long time.
We’re going to have a very difficult time getting our groceries to them.”
Lefebve said the survey findings were a “wake-up call” to local retailers that have faced increasing competition from fast-food chains, such as Wendy’s, and other fast-casual chains.
He said the stores will have to keep improving their service to get customers to return.
“I think our customers are going to continue to be frustrated,” Lefevre said.
“The grocery chain is going to be the bottleneck in that.”
He said it will be difficult for retailers to find enough employees to cover the increased workload, which is already affecting their ability to compete with chain stores.