Whether shoppers went online, or faced the large crowds at the stores, retailers say the 2012 holiday season is off to a good start with Black Friday sales reporting some of the best ever.

According to a survey conducted for the National Retail Federation, more than $59 billion in sales were processed from Thursday through Sunday. This is up from last year’s spending of about $52.4 billion.

This year’s success is due in large part to more online sales, and more stores opening on Thanksgiving.

Walmart, which draws some of the largest Black Friday crowds, opened its doors around 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Toys R Us, which is also popular, made shopping easier for some parents who don’t want to fight the crowds. Online shopping was available on Thanksgiving. Kohl’s was the same way, offering all in-store deals online.

This allowed retailers to get ahead of online sales, in anticipation of what has come to be known as Cyber Monday.

According to early reports, almost 41 percent of a consumer’s total spending for the weekend was online. On Cyber Monday, retailers anticipated more than 129 million online shoppers to hit the websites.

National retailers said opening doors early on Thanksgiving gave them a boost, with an increase of nearly 20 percent in sales when compared to last year’s numbers.

In Tucson, larger crowds than normal showed up at the Tucson Mall, and plenty of stores had lines starting at 8 p.m.

For the most part, it appears retailers are happy with how the holiday shopping season started, but are still concerned if the sales will stay strong through the next month.

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