The Sheffield artists told his 65,000 Twitter followers that the demise of John Lewis and Debenhams showed how online shopping was now dictating what the city centre is for.
He added: ‘We now have an opportunity in Sheffield to be a head of the game. Move forward.’
In another tweet he said: ‘Flatten it and turn Barker’s Pool into an artisan market each weekend, Food one week, vintage the next crafts the week after etc.’
His comments come after the company announced plans not to reopen the store after lockdown putting 299 jobs at risk.
The move has prompted an outpouring of grief from longstanding customers, a petition calling for it to stay open and a backlash from those who say they will stop spending money there.
Mr McKee’s tweets prompted a response from Dickie Vernon who said: ‘We’ve got to move forward...let’s be right.. Coles had lost its way, so had Debenhams... we’ve still got Atkinsons and lots of independent retailers who are well worth supporting’.
Katie Smith said: ‘So why is shopping in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds so good?’
Pete McKee responded: ‘They have wealthier residents which encourage high end shops which then brings in outside visitors’.
Fiona Sampson responded: ‘I would agree that Leeds and Manchester have wealthy pop, but is that the case for Liverpool?
‘I thought Sheffield Hallam had one of the highest disposable income rates in the country. Better city centre might attract business and improve employment opportunities’.
@LennyEgghead said: ‘City centre for culture, leisure and arts. Shopping offer to complement that, with independent shops and any high end shops a destination/experience - like Harvey Nichols.
‘We don't have the number of wealthy residents and don't seem to like spending money. If so, JL would stay’.
Rich Shaw said: ‘Been saying for years Sheffield town centre should be all about entertainment, bars, restaurants, open areas for socialising etc, and forget about retail, that's been dead since 1990 when Meadowhall opened’.
Marc Webster: ‘City centres are changing. Would love to think that Sheff Council can get ahead of the curve on this and start to create something we can be proud of... but then they don’t have a great track record’.