The company said it has 30,000 employees.
"We are extremely disappointed by this outcome," James Marcum, acting CEO for Circuit City, said in a statement. "We were unable to reach an agreement with our creditors and lenders to structure a going-concern transaction in the limited timeframe available, and so this is the only possible path for our company."
In a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Circuit City - the No. 2 electronics retailer after Best Buy (BBY, Fortune 500) - said it had reached an agreement with four companies to start the liquidation process.
The company said the sale would begin Saturday and run until March 31, pending court approval.
"This is very significant. It shows you how bad things are for the the retail industry," said George Whalin, president and CEO of Retail Management Consultants.
Whalin said management mistakes over the past few years combined with the recession brought down Circuit City.
"This company made massive mistakes," he said, citing a decision to get rid of sales people and other mismanagement.
What's more, given the credit market freeze, Whalin added that no manufacturer wants to sell to any retailer who doesn't have money to pay for the merchandise.
At the same time, Whalin said there's still a very slim chance that one or more firms that have expressed an interest in buying Circuit City could still buy it out of bankruptcy over the next few days.
"I wouldn't say it's completely over yet for Circuit City, but it's almost over," Whalin said.