Personal Finance

'Almost 40%' of UK consumers not saving for retirement


Nearly 40 percent of Britons have no plans to invest for their retirement with over a third doubting that they'll ever be able to reach their financial goals, according to a new study.

British consumers are almost twice as likely not to plan for their future as the world average, new research from Nielsen finds, with 37 percent Britons failing to plan ahead compared to 22 percent of global consumers. However, 31 percent of those surveyed did say they were planning for old age.

(Read more: Is UK trying to spend its way back to recovery?)

"Britons appear much less involved in saving and investment activities than other consumers around the world. Our analysis shows the British are engaging in activity to meet, on average, just two-and-a-half financial goals, compared to four goals globally," said Eleni Nicholas, senior vice-president for financial services at Nielsen in Europe.

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"Although retirement is high up on Britons' lists, it's still much less of a thought than it is around the world," she added.

The National Institute of Social and Economic Research (NIESR) said the UK economy was well and truly "entrenched" on Friday, predicting 2.5 percent growth this year and 2.1 percent in 2015 as joblessness has fallen and house prices are on the up.

However, the think tank warned that consumer spending would remain the key driver of the recovery in 2014 and 2015.

British consumers collectively have nearly £139 billion in unsecured debts, with 63 percent admitting they have some form of unsecured borrowing, according to a recent report from price comparison website MoneySuperMarket.

(Read more: UK economy goes from 'zero to hero' but don't expect giveaway)

Chief economist at Henderson Global Investors, Simon Ward said the UK's low saving rate and reliance on spending was a "very serious long term problem" as it goes hand in hand with the country's low investment rate.

"The UK's poor productivity performance is weak partly because of low savings and investment," he said.

"When you have a burst of growth, like what we are experiencing at the moment, capacity is constrained because firms are still very reluctant to invest, which leads to more frequent economic cycles," he said.

(Read more: Goldman: These are UK's two long-term weaknesses)

Britons who are saving or investing are mainly doing so to cover household emergencies, with 38 percent putting money away for home improvements. Saving for personal luxuries, such as cars or holidays, also topped consumers' list of saving priorities with 27 percent saving.

Making sure there's enough money to put their children through higher education, however, is not as important to Britons, with just 10 percent of consumers investing in their children's future, compared to 28 percent of global consumers.

By CNBC's Jenny Cosgrave: Follow her on Twitter @jenny_cosgrave