The data from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) compared pensions enquiries and withdrawals between April 2019 and April 2020.
Queries from customers about their pension fell by nearly a third (31.9%), people choosing to access their pension via drawdown fell 42.2%, the number of people taking only a tax-free lump sum halved (53.1%), the number of people withdrawing their pension in one lump sum fell by 30.2%, and the number of people buying an annuity fell by 56.3%.
There was also a fall in all categories when comparing March 2019 to March 2020.
Queries from customers about their pension fell 3.2%, people choosing to access their pension via drawdown fell 15%, the number of people taking only a tax-free lump sum fell 29%, people withdrawing all their pension in one lump sum fell by a fifth (20%), and people buying an annuity fell 36%.
Rob Yuille, assistant director and head of long-term savings at the ABI, said: “As Covid-19 struck there was a fear in the industry and in government that a pensions panic would hit, with mass pension withdrawals out of fear of stock market volatility and labour market uncertainty. So far, this concern couldn’t be more wrong. Instead customers have been holding off in large numbers.
“The pandemic is a harsh reminder of the uncertainty of how long your retirement might last, what it will look like and what it will cost."
Helen Morrissey, pension specialist at Royal London, said: “This research shows that people are pressing the pause button on making long term retirement decisions in the current environment. This is not surprising given stock market volatility and concerns about redundancies. However, as time goes on people will need to make decisions to help them navigate the increasingly complex environment – there has never been a greater need for advice.”