Independent retailers can now harness the power of the weather to boost sales in the same way as the big box multiples do thanks to the launch of a new forecasting tool.

Weather website Netweather has launched a forecasting tool aimed specifically at independents. It is currently being trialled by two retailers and is expected to be made available to others later this year.

"Until now, reliable weather analysis has only been in the gift of the large retailers and we hope that the new Netweather retail system will give independent retailers access to tools that were previously viewed as an expensive luxury," said Netweather director Ian Michaelwaite.

Up to 5% of sales were dependent on the weather and wastage of perishable stock could be cut by a similar rate by using the system to predict buying trends, he claimed.

The system allowed retailers to calculate demand far more accurately, he added. "You would assume that ice cream sales keep increasing as the weather gets hotter but as it hits 24C they plateau and the sale of ice pops accelerates. And when the thermometer goes above 22C, sales of leg wax go through the roof."

The data for the Retail Weather system is sourced from the NOAA, the US equivalent of the Met Office, and broken down into forecasts for 8km-wide areas. Retailers can look up the weather based on their post code and view 16-day and six-month rolling forecasts online.

"We correctly predicted the big freeze last year and the end-of-summer washout this year," said Michaelwaite.

Data stretching back three years can also be downloaded to establish historic weather-related sales trends.

Netweather predicts snow this Christmas. "There's a block of cold weather due to be with us and another after new year, so it's odds on for a cold Christmas," said Michaelwhite.

The multiples already use sophisticated demand forecasting systems.