Unfortunately, in the current economic climate, we might not know whether the punchline will result in a laugh or a groan.  Intu is putting administrators on standby, which raises concerns about viability of shopping centres.  As Emma Warren notes, shopping centres remain a staple of British life.  There are more than 430 listed on Wikipedia and any failing centre could have a significant impact on the high street and town centres more generally.  

Equally, however, what we are also seeing is a growing sense of "retail repurposing" (see the Charles Russell Speechlys pages on this subject here for example).  The stick man in question here is painted by graffiti artist, Stik, on part of the Berlin Wall, currently standing in Lewisham Shopping Centre (other examples of Stik's work can be seen across London - see here if you are interested).  Along with the other figure, painted by Thierry Noir, forms part of an exhibit outside the newly opened Migration Museum, recently relocated from Vauxhall.  

This all forms part of the reimagining of retail spaces, which were facing widespread and structural changes even before the current pandemic.  Not only might this type of re-purposing improve the footfall for the shops, it may also draw in people who may otherwise not visit have visited the museum in the first place.  This can be seen by the 40,000 people who visited The Fire Within exhibition in six spaces at the Galleries Wigan.  And whilst housing may form an important part of this mix, it should exclude the alternative uses that can make such places and spaces more exciting and more interesting.  

It won't just be museums and exhibitions that could bring new life to shopping centres and other retail areas.  The quote for this article is from Mark Robinson of Ellandi, which has been using its space for various additional/alternative uses (e.g. GP surgeries, clinics and co-working spaces). 

Ultimately, this will be about creating or reinforcing community and generating or preserving value and investor return.  Some shops will close and others will open.  In such a situation, there will need to be more than just "popping to the shops" as a reason to visit (and ideally over a longer period than just "shop opening hours").  There will need to be - Mark Robinson, again: “What’s happening in retail is a once-in-a-generation structural change. It’s brutal, but if we approach it in the right way, with the help of the government, it could be one of the most exciting times for urban renewal the UK has seen. Bob Kerslake, the former head of the civil service, has been talking about the scale that’s required to sort out the challenges in our towns and cities across the country. He likened it to the reunification of Germany after the wall fell down. That cost €1.7tn (£1.5tn).”

Time will tell if the Stick Man will be bringing the rest of his family along for the day.