Consumer sentiment fell in May to its lowest level since December 2016, according to the latest index from KBC Bank / ESRI.

The monthly Consumer Sentiment Index, which measures consumer opinion about personal and overall economic health, dropped from 102.5 in April to 100.5 in May. 

The report stated that the level suggests consumers are moderately optimistic about the economic outlook but there is a clear lack of momentum. 

Nagging uncertainty about the economy contributed to the fall, according to analysis by KBC Bank Ireland's chief economist Austin Hughes. 

Mr Hughes pointed out that it may seem strange how sensitive consumers are to risk of economic setback when in reality the country is currently experiencing relatively robust growth.

"This partly reflects painful memories of the recent global downturn but it likely owes more to the fact that continuing pressure on household finances simply means many consumers can’t afford not to be nervous," he said. 

The share of Irish households reporting that their finances improved in the past 12 months was 23%, while 53% say finances remained the same. 

"While the majority of respondents remain neutral with regard to improving finances compared to 12 months ago, there was a 3 percentage point increase in negative responses," Daniel Foley of ESRI said. 

Looking forward, 58% believe their household finances will remain unchanged in the next year while 29% of households that believe their finances will improve in the next 12 months.

"Consumers continue to remain cautious in their expectation of the overall economic climate next year," he said. 

Despite the "less buoyant picture" of the economy, the report emphasised that the figures do not suggest a likelihood of economic relapse. 

The analysis pointed to influences of Brexit concerns and US policy inconsistencies contributing to the uncertainty. 

Elsewhere there seems to be a boost in sentiment due to optimism regarding a less severe than predicted squeeze in the UK and confidence among Trump supporters in the US. 

Irish optimism seems to be fading, according to Mr Hughes' analysis. 

"There is a clear sense in these data that many consumers feel the recovery has overpromised and under-delivered in terms of an improvement in their living standards," he said.