Impact of natural disasters on consumer behavior: Case of the 2017 El Niño phenomenon in Peru

Hugo Alatrista-Salas, Vincent Gauthier, Miguel Nunez-Del-Prado, Monique Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in a journalpeer-review


El Niño is an extreme weather event featuring unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. This phenomenon is characterized by heavy rains and floods that negatively affect the economic activities of the impacted areas. Understanding how this phenomenon influences consumption behavior at different granularity levels is essential for recommending strategies to normalize the situation. With this aim, we performed a multi-scale analysis of data associated with bank transactions involving credit and debit cards. Our findings can be summarized into two main results: Coarse-grained analysis reveals the presence of the El Niño phenomenon and the recovery time in a given territory, while fine-grained analysis demonstrates a change in individuals’ purchasing patterns and in merchant relevance as a consequence of the climatic event. The results also indicate that society successfully withstood the natural disaster owing to the economic structure built over time. In this study, we present a new method that may be useful for better characterizing future extreme events.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0244409
Number of pages23
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Alatrista-Salas et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Cluster Analysis
  • Consumer Behavior
  • El Nino-Southern Oscillation
  • Humans
  • Peru
  • Time Factors


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