Property consultancy Savills said its monthly survey – conducted with both developers and contractors – found 54 per cent of respondents had experienced a fall in activity, compared to only 5 per cent which had seen an increase.
But Savills head of commercial research Mat Oakley said: "While the noise about the recession has probably drowned out any relief at the falling cost of money, there are signs this month that activity and confidence may have reached their nadir.
"We expect both to improve in 2009, though the recovery is likely to be back ended to the second half of the year."
He said the degree of negative sentiment about the three-month outlook for activity was unchanged in December, and the joint-lowest in the six-year history of the records.
Commercial developers were most pessimistic about potential industrial and warehouse activity.