SPECIAL occasion wear shop Belles will be closing down after five-and-a-half years of trade in June.

Tough conditions in the retail trade over the last year have proved too difficult for owner Claire McCue to sustain a viable business.

The small independent shop on Chalmers Street in Dunfermline is facing competition from the online market and bigger cities.

Claire, 42, from Dalgety Bay, who runs the shop on her own, said: "We're looking towards the end of June as a closing date but if everything goes it could be earlier.

"It's been busy which would have been good if that had happened earlier in the year!

"I'll probably look to do something different now so I'm on the job hunt.

"It's just one of those things. I've loved it but it's also been five-and-a-half years of blood, sweat and tears."

Claire's journey in retail began when she started helping a friend with a bridal shop.

"I was working at the airport for 10 years before that, loading cargo and working in steel cap boots!" she explained.

"It was one extreme to the other!

"People kept asking for mother-of-the-bride outfits at the bridal store and I was thinking there seemed to be a bit of a niche in the market, but in the last year, it's just not been viable.

"There's been quite a few returning customers. Those with multiple grandchildren all getting married at the same time! So some have come back every year.

"But weddings don't happen all the time so unfortunately, you don't get customers coming back every week."

Claire added: "Unfortunately more and more people are just going online and that's the problem.

"We're also competing a lot with the big cities. People seem to want to make a day of it so they'll travel to Edinburgh or Glasgow.

"People are not shopping local and you're trying to balance that with competition from the online market.

"Some days I can see nobody and then other days I see 10, it's feast or famine.

"We've got lots of awards so we were doing something right but it's unfortunate.

"Don't get me wrong, I have loved it but it's very stressful running your own business!

"It's on to the next chapter in my life."