A councillor has suggested Oswestry drops one of its regular market days.
Councillor Sandy Best said the decline of the outdoor market on Wednesdays and Saturdays has called into question how much longer they can continue, describing them “an embarrassment”.
But shocked councillors said they would do all they can to continue the town’s heritage.
Cllr Best said: “Sometimes you couldn’t call it a market. You shop for what you need – and what is coming on to the market isn’t what people need.
“It is as though we are afraid to tackle that.
“If you are running a business and it is not functioning, perhaps we should have the courage to say this is not working.
“It’s an embarrassment.”
Figures for the year to date show the Wednesday market has experienced an average £66 per week drop in income, with around 12 traders attending each week – which is down on 16 last year.
The Saturday market has seen its income decrease on average by £71 per week this year, with just seven traders attending every week, compared to 11 last year.
Councillor Chris Schofield said the figures were “the worst” he had seen in his 11 years as a town councillor.
He added: “It is disappointing. I don’t know where we go from here. We are trying everything we can to improve the situation.”
However, Councillor Paul Milner, chairman of the Markets and Car Parks Committee, vowed to protect the markets. He said: “We can’t lose the markets – they are part of our heritage.”
Cllr Duncan Kerr said losing the market would be “a retrograde step”, while the Mayor of Oswestry, Cllr Vince Hunt, added: “It’s easy to say kill it off but it’s some people’s livelihood.
“We do have a duty to keep the markets going. We know markets aren’t a dead loss because some are working and I am nowhere near giving up on the market.”
Clerk to the council David Preston said the council is trying to improve the markets by bringing the outdoor market into Bailey Street, adding: “We recognise the critical performance but are trying to do something about it.”