The number of people saving enough for their retirement has fallen by 6% to 48%, according to a survey by Scottish Widows.
The Edinburgh-based life and pensions provider said the figure was the lowest since 2006.
The economic downturn was blamed by 41% of people in the UK for saving less.
The study, carried out in April, found women over 50 were worst hit with 38% putting aside enough for retirement, compared with 52% last year.
Scottish Widows said although the credit crunch began two years ago it was only now that the effects were trickling through to pension savings.
While the previous three years had seen a rise in the number of people saving adequately, the latest research showed a reverse of this trend.
A fifth of those that could and should be saving were found not to be putting anything by at all.
Retirement on hold
The results showed that the gender gap had fallen compared with last year, with 52% of employed men saving at adequate levels, compared with only 43% of women.
Scottish Widows said the group hardest hit was those over 50, who should be saving the most for their retirement.
In particular, 26% of women in this age group were not saving at all, compared with 22% last year.
In contrast, 60% of men over 50 were saving adequately for their retirement.
The economic downturn was found to have affected peoples' attitudes towards saving.
Two-fifths had saved less because of the recession and nearly a third of people with a pension and not yet retired thought the size of their pension pot had been reduced.
The recession had led to 18% putting retirement lower on their list of priorities.
Ian Naismith, head of pensions market development at Scottish Widows, said: "The whole nation is feeling worse off than a year ago and this is really starting to take its toll on pensions savings.
"While there are signs that the economy is recovering, the nation's saving habits paint a very different story."
He added: "There is still a great deal that needs to be done from both the government and the industry to better encourage pensions savings for the long-term."
The poll of more than 5,000 people found 37% of those questioned fitted the target group of being of working age and earning more than £10,000 per year.