Remember last December? No one imagined what the coming weeks and months would bring. Seems like forever ago. It’s been five months. We spent three of those months in lockdown. But the holidays are coming. In just five months Halloween will be behind us as we stare at the holiday season abyss head-on.

If you’re in retail that thought is keeping you up nights — or it will. While Amazon has put off its Prime Day and the Olympics have been postponed, canceling Christmas isn’t really an option.

The average high schooler knows that retail makes its year in the fourth quarter. Or it doesn’t.

States are starting to open up and will most likely continue to do so. Businesses would love nothing more than to get back to some sort of normal. But consumers — always a challenge — will be even more fickle this year.

Many malls have re-opened, but half or more of stores remain closed. Some of those won’t ever re-open.

Two major and obvious concerns are top-of-mind: safety and the economy. A vaccine is not available, and more than 100,000 people have died in the US so far. Also, the economy is deep into recession territory and 20 million people are out of work. Neither of those are going to be fixed quickly.

And still, the holidays are coming.

Safety is a major concern for shoppers. Many are shopping online today and will continue to do so even after pandemic restrictions have lifted. Those venturing out are either in the mask-wearing camp or not, and disagreements happen daily. There are few guidelines to follow, so stores must decide whether to require masks. There is no obvious choice here — either way some will take issue.

Non-essential businesses are trying to figure out how to re-open and if customers will return. Essential businesses like grocery stores are slogging through, but still don’t have all the wrinkles worked out. Putting a clerk near the carts to wipe them down isn’t a long-term solution.

And still, the holidays are coming.

The other challenge is the economy. The lockdown drove unemployment from below four percent to somewhere in the mid-teens in less than a month. Retailers are going bankrupt as revenue losses pulled back the curtain on all manner of financial balancing acts and the ugly truth came to light. Blame Covid if you like, but none of those going under should be surprised. Relevance wasn’t lost in eight weeks.

And still, the holidays are coming.

Post-lockdown scenarios span the spectrum from an immediate and complete recovery to a years-long malaise. The threat of an autumn rekindling of the virus adds another twist to an already murky future.

This has been a year like no other. 2020 will continue to surprise, taunt, and confound us. Planning ahead is almost laughable in concept. We don’t even know if there will be a back-to-school season this year. Some schools have already made plans to remain shuttered until January 2021.

Two options are available: 1). start planning and developing options; 2) worry about it later and hope for the best.

Either way, the holidays are coming.