Mayor John Tory is calling on retailers that remain open to avoid drawing crowds to their stores this week by holding Black Friday sales.

Black Friday is the day after U.S. Thanksgiving and usually marks the start of the Christmas shopping season, with many retailers typically beginning to offer their deepest discounts of the year.

While it began as a U.S. tradition, Canadian retail stores have increasingly held large Black Friday sales over the past few years to match their U.S. counterparts south of the border.

However with Toronto and Peel Region under a lockdown because of runaway COVID-19 spread and much of the rest of the GTA in the “red zone” under Ontario’s tiered system, Tory said Monday that he is urging businesses with open stores not to create dangerous crowding situations by holding big sales.

“I urge all retailers who are still open to avoid in-person, Black Friday sales,” Tory said at his news conference Monday. “You are open by order of the province so residents can buy essentials; You are not open to cash in on Black Friday and in so doing, create crowd scenes.

“We're in the midst of a pandemic and a lockdown. Now is not the time for pandemonium Black Friday shopping scenes.”

He urged businesses to hold online sales with curbside pickup or delivery options, but to avoid creating situations where people have to crowd into a physical location to try beat other shoppers to door-crashers.

“Black Friday sales online are fine, but please do not create a situation where people will gather in large and unnecessary and unhelpful numbers,” Tory said. “And to Black Friday shoppers, please stay home and shop online, or use the curbside pickup option for some of these smaller independent retailers.”

The mayor also urged people to support smaller local businesses as much as possible as they are the ones who are most deeply impacted by the lockdown orders. Under the provincial lockdown orders, large big-box stores selling essential items, such as Walmart, Home Depot and Costco, can remain open for in-store shopping.

“Please give every consideration that you possibly can to supporting smaller independent local retailers, many of whom have an online presence and almost all of whom will have a curbside pickup permitted under the provincial lockdown measures,” Tory said.

He added that “no deal, no TV, no clothing item, no video game is worth someone else getting COVID 19.”