BOSTON — A task force created by the state Senate has concluded that Massachusetts retailers are struggling with "profound challenges," including higher operating costs and ever-increasing competition from online sellers.

The final report released by the panel this past week calls for coordinated efforts to strengthen the retail sector, but stops short of making specific recommendations.

The 17-member task force cited the differing tax treatment of brick-and-mortar stores as opposed to online retailers, and the competitive disadvantage faced by retailers near the border with New Hampshire, which has no sales tax.

The report also notes rising costs from minimum wage hikes, premium pay for workers on Sundays and other state mandates.

A retailers group has proposed a November ballot question to cut the Massachusetts sales tax from 6.25 percent to 5 percent.

-- Associated Press --

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