INDIANAPOLIS — For central Indiana small businesses, it is a lump of coal.

The weather forecast Thursday night into Friday morning is rain with rapidly dropping temperatures which may freeze on area roads. Snow and extreme cold temperatures will follow. This is expected to cause all sorts of havoc for shoppers in the last two-and-half days before Christmas.

“Saw that it may be a bit rough towards the end of the week, which made us all start to think what’s going to be the plan and what’s going to be the shopping atmosphere,” said Elizabeth Shikany, owner of Marigold Clothing in Broad Ripple.

Among the things Shikany rattled off as possible storm counter measurers included extending store hours before the arrival of the bad weather and emailing customers to encourage them to shop earlier.

“Those gift givers who only come into my store once a year on Christmas Eve or on the 23rd, maybe they can be a 21st or 22nd shoppers this year,” said Shikany.

Next door at Monon Toys and Crafts, the storm’s timing is awful. Late and last-minute shoppers are a core part of the biggest shopping season of the year.

Owner Alla Kapchunova is hoping on Christmas Eve, after the storm has passed and road cleanup has been underway, maybe she can steal a page from Santa’s playbook and do some home deliveries.

“I would encourage people, if you know you won’t be able to make it, you can order online if delivery is local. I think it will be possible to get items there before Christmas,” said Kapchunova.

If losing a couple of days during holiday shopping season seems like a small matter, consider this. Data from the U.S. Department of Labor suggests one in every five small businesses fail in their very first year.

The Lola Blue Boutique opened in Broad Ripple in May of 2017. Owner Pamela Moosey-Light is not thrilled with a weather-shorted shopping season, but because her business is established and has done well all year long, she is not unnerved by it all.

“It does sound like it’s gonna be heavy duty, but I think I’m not going to panic at this point. Just take it day by day, take deep breaths and think positive thoughts,” said Moosey-Light.

She said she’ll focus on serving whoever makes it to her store and get ready for the after-holiday shopping crowd.