Saving was not high on the list of priorities for many in the lead up to Christmas, according to the latest figures from Nationwide's Savings Index.
In December, Nationwide's Importance of Savings Index fell to 86 points – representing a decrease of 12 points since November, as an increasing number of consumers saw saving as less important.
Nationwide's research revealed that 45 per cent of consumers said they save regularly – down by four per cent on the previous month.
Meanwhile, the number of people not saving at all rose slightly by one per cent to 25 per cent.
Commenting, Andy Hutchinson, head of savings at Nationwide, said he was unsurprised the Importance for Saving Index took a hit in the run-up to Christmas and suggests the impending VAT increase probably did not help the situation.
However, an increasing number of consumers believe now is a good time to save as the Savings Environment Index increased by five points to 81 points in December, and the Future Savings Index remained steady at 124 points.
While Nationwide's main Savings Index fell by four points to 83 points, it is now at a similar level to what is was 12 months ago.
Despite this, Mr Hutchinson remains concerned: "Discouragingly, the number of those who are saving regularly is at its lowest point since the Index began in May 2008.
"On the other hand, this could be because of seasonal fluctuations – as mentioned earlier – and we mustn't forget that the Base Rate is lower now than it was 12 months ago. Nevertheless, it's still worrying that a quarter of us are not saving any money at all."
Accepting that December can be an expensive month for families, Mr Hutchinson encouraged people "to get back into a savings habit as quickly as possible in January 2010".
© Fair Investment Company Ltd