Total July sales at United Retail Group Inc dropped 3 per cent to $26.1 million compared with $26.9 million during July 2001 the company said today. Comparable store sales for the specialty retailer of large-size women's fashion apparel and footwear decreased 4 per cent for the month.

For the second fiscal quarter, total sales increased 6 per cent to $113.7 million compared with $107.3 million in the same period last year. Comparable store sales increased 4 per cent for the fiscal quarter.

For the first half of the fiscal year, total sales increased 6 per cent to $229.2 million compared with $216.1 million in the same period last year. Comparable store sales increased 3 per cent for the first half of the fiscal year.

George R Remeta, the company's vice chairman and chief administrative officer said soft July sales increased pressure on merchandise margins. "While we therefore expect an operating loss for the quarter, our actions have positioned us to begin the third quarter with no carryover effects," he said.