Some 50% of people surveyed by asset manager BlackRock say they are unwilling to take any risks with their money, leading to high allocations in cash.
BlackRock's Investor Pulse Survey 2013 also showed only half of people felt in control of their financial future, with 44% saying the UK economy was their top concern.
The research looked at the views of more than 17,000 people in 12 countries and 2,000 specifically in the UK.
It showed only 13% spent time reviewing their retirement plans compared to almost two fifths planning a holiday. However, a third spent time reviewing savings and investments which are not specifically linked to retirement.
More than two thirds (68%) currently allocate these savings to cash while 78% said they will increase or retain their allocation in the next 12 months.
When asked what factors would encourage investors to move away from cash, 38% cited guaranteed returns and 31% said the knowledge their initial investment would not be lost. Only a fifth said tax breaks would incentivise them.
With regards to retirement, almost half (49%) of people said extra income in retirement would be a main reason to invest in income-generating asset classes. Some 46% of those aged between 65 and 74 said the income from these investments was important.
Some 63% of respondents said they did not understand how much they needed to save for retirement while 67% said they would not delay retirement to save more. Almost three quarters (73%) said their retirement plans cannot cope with financial market volatility.
The manager's research also showed auto-enrolment (AE) would see opt-out rates of 17% if contributions were higher than 4% of annual income. Some 29% were undecided.
Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) showed opt-out rates of 9% after the first six months of AE, much lower than estimates in 2012.
BlackRock head of UK defined contribution business development and strategy Paul Bucksey said the survey showed the reality of people more concerned with holidays than future retirement income.
He added: "All of us - government, employers and providers alike - need to re-double our efforts to prevent people from opting out and get them saving more for their retirement.
"As an industry we clearly have a responsibility to encourage individuals to plan, to talk to people in pounds and pence, and to help them understand the steps they can take to build up a decent pension pot. If we can do this, opt-out rates will remain low."
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