WASHINGTON – The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau today released retail sales data for January 2011. Retail sales rose 0.3 percent in January. This figure was slightly below private-sector expectations of a 0.6-percent gain. Excluding automobiles, retail sales grew 0.3 percent in January. Sales at motor vehicle dealers increased 0.6 percent. “Retail sales, along with other indicators of consumer spending, continues to show growth following strong gains in the second half of 2010,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said.