The recession is creating a three-tier real estate economy in the UK, with Manchester and Leeds in the second tier behind London and other areas in the third tier, according to a new survey.
The research, Deloitte Restructuring Outlook 2012: the industry speaks, includes primary research from senior bankers and professionals in the restructuring sector.
Many highlighted sectors with exposure to discretionary consumer spending, such as retail, leisure and hotels as most likely to be the vulnerable to distress. In the past year, the retail sector alone accounted for 20% of restructuring work in the UK.
The continuing downturn in consumer-facing sectors is expected to result in further distress for commercial property, with more tenancy failures and vacant units. Construction-related industries are also considered at risk.
The report suggests that with London outperforming the rest of the country, Manchester and Leeds are in a second-tier for commercial property.
Liverpool is also performing better than many regional centres, Deloitte found, but is in the third tier. Other areas of the North were said to be displaying little or no investment in their real estate markets.
One professional surveyed said: "We are going to end up with a three-tier economy here. I don't think it's a straight North-South divide. I think there is a big piece here around proximity to major economic centres and activity."
The report also highlights assessments by restructuring professionals on the outlook for the economy; 86% of respondents believed the UK economy would flatline in the coming year and 14% anticipated outright recession. Meanwhile, more than half of respondents expect an increase in cases in the next year.
Bill Dawson, head of Deloitte's North West restructuring practice, said: "The North West is clearly a large and diverse region and it continues to be a mixed picture in terms of business restructuring. However, as the report illustrates, Manchester city centre is performing relatively well in real estate while other areas are struggling as they are impacted by the weak economy.
"The research strongly indicates that business issues should be addressed directly and early by boards, senior executives and their advisers to ensure the best outcome for all parties.
"Clearly, though, the most significant factor remains the state of the economy. Most restructuring specialists see little sign of improvement in the next 12 months, with uncertainty in the Euro area restricting investment levels."
The Restructuring Outlook 2012 report was based on primary research with more than 30 senior bankers and Deloitte's perspective of the current restructuring landscape.