For some years, boomers have been a big part of guitar sales, at least in the U.S.. Then came the year of quarantine and guitar sales shot up markedly, worldwide from what I read. We've seen evidence of that in the GT forum with all the posts/comments by new members. Just last week there was a statement from the Fender CEO saying things looked dark before the pandemic and now their sales are at record levels, +17% from last year.
Add that to past stories I've read criticizing Guitar Center stores for lack of inventory, poor staff expertise and customer support, and the overall condition and cleanliness of the stores. Having never been in one (you know...western Montana ) I didn't know what to make of the stories and wondered if it was individual stores that were bringing down the chain's reputation.
A telling clue, I think, is that in this guitar boom time, Guitar Center couldn't make it as it currently operates. Significantly, Guitar Center closed most of their 300 stores this year because of the pandemic. Their sales shifted to their e-commerce channels but I think the fact remains that ya' can't make much money if your retail model is based on brick and mortar stores and your stores are closed... no matter how bright and clean the store and its workers are.
-- Chet Atkins