NEW YORK (AP) _ McCrory Corp. revealed the gravity of financial troubles facing the five- and-dime store company Friday, saying it would miss a payment on a small loan and hinting that bankruptcy court loomed as a refuge.

The payment, due on just $3.37 million in debt securities, was to be made Saturday. A statement from the company's headquarters here said McCrory is ''considering its restructuring options,'' one of which might include seeking protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal Bankruptcy Code.

Repeated efforts to reach McCrory's chief financial officer, Paul Weiner, were unsuccessful. Weiner, the only executive designated to speak to the press, was said to be in a meeting all day.

McCrory's stores unit, headquartered in York, Pa., operates the G.C. Murphy, J.J. Newberry, H.L. Green and S.H. Kress outlets, some of the oldest names among the chains of dime-stores that once dotted many downtowns across the nation. The McCrory-owned stores are primarily located in low-income urban areas.

The news follows a previously announced plan to close nearly a quarter of the company's 1,030 variety stores. Shortly before Christmas McCrory said it would shut 229 stores scattered across more than two dozen states.

The stores lost about $16 million in the first nine months of 1991, contributing to an overall loss of $42.3 million during the period. Sales totaled $960.7 million for the first nine months of 1991, down from $1.05 billion in the year-ago period.

Two-thousand of the company's 25,000-member workforce were expected to be let go.

The Christmas season was so disappointing for McCrory that Robert Spencer, president and chief operating officer, met in January with suppliers in an effort to win their support. Earlier in the year the company had fallen behind in payments to suppliers.

At the meeting, Spencer predicted McCrory would post sales of $1.14 billion for 1991, only slightly lower than the $1.2 billion of the previous year. The company has yet to release final financial data for 1991.

McCrory is part of Riklis Holdings Inc., a privately held concern headed by flamboyant immigrant Meshulam Riklis, an Istanbul native who came to America from Tel Aviv in 1947.

His relationship with the business world has been stormy since 1954, with financial disasters twice threatening to wipe out his growing empire.

In addition to the troubles at the McCrory chain, Riklis's Riviera Hotel, a Las Vegas casino, has sought bankruptcy court protection.

Other Riklis holdings include Samsonite Corp., Elizabeth Arden, Faberge, Culligan International Co., Martha White Foods Inc. and Botany 500.

Several of these companies were acquired in 1988 when Riklis bought the E- II Holdings subsidiary of American Brands Inc. in a $1.2 billion cash-and- stock deal.

Riklis restructured E-II in 1990, spinning off McCrory Corp. to another Riklis-owned firm. He now is facing a class-action suit, which charges he drained E-II of cash.