Consumer sentiment inched lower in September compared to August as global concerns and people's household finances continued to hit confidence.

The KBC Bank Ireland/ESRI consumer sentiment index weakened marginally to stand at 100.6 in September from 101.1 in August.

KBC Bank said that while the reading should be regarded as "fairly healthy", it also underlines the ongoing concerns facing the average Irish consumer.

KBC's chief economist Austin Hughes said that because of the impact of global developments to the Irish economy, it would not have been surprising if consumer sentiment here had registered a bigger drop last month. 

But the economist noted that the element of the survey that related to people's views on the economic outlook actually improved slightly in September.

He said the strength of the Irish economy and recent jobs data are likely to have served as an important counterweight to the increased level of nervousness abroad.

However, the slight rise in confidence about the outlook for the economy here did not result in a corresponding rise in sentiment in relation to jobs and this element of the survey weakened last month.

Consumers also cut their assessment of how their personal finances have evolved in the last 12 months and how they they expect them to develop over the next year.

"The more downbeat assessment of personal finances by Irish consumers may reflect a continuing gap between strong economic indicators and what for many continues to be a struggle to make ends meet," commented Austin Hughes.

He said that just 20% of consumers reported an improvement in their household finances in the past 12 months. 

Mr Hughes also said that today's survey suggest there might be significant merit in Budget measures that put household finances onto a somewhat healthier trajectory, and in the process, broaden the base of the recovery.

"The tricky task is strike a balance that supports broadly felt growth without fostering unrealistic expectations. The September consumer sentiment results might suggest that this may require a Budget day package of at least the proposed €1.5 billion already signalled by the Government," the economist added.